Working with Nuisance AnimalsAs New Hampshire residents, we all have stories about black bear sightings: at our bird feeders, in our trash barrels, along our back roads and routes. Nancy Comeau, a longtime New Hampshire Fish and Game employee and Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy student, has many exciting tales to tell. Nancy has played a key role in a cooperative program between N.H. Fish and Game and USDA Wildlife Services that examines nuisance bear activity in New Hampshire.
Nancy shared stories and talked about her master’s thesis research, Evaluation of Aversive Conditioning on Activity Levels of Nuisance Black Bears, with participants from the Pakistani Educational Leadership Institute (PELI). Shabana Haider, PELI participant and gender officer for the World Wide Fund for Nature–Pakistan, and Nancy exchanged stories about nuisance mammals, only Shabana is more familiar with issues and techniques regarding nuisance leopards.
One of the best parts of the photo (at right), hidden from view, is that a nuisance black bear was actually in the trap. The bear had been enjoying the surplus food at a summer camp, making him unpopular, so the “authorities” were called to send him to a more suitable habitat. Nancy was about to drive the sedated bear from the Twin Mountain Hatchery, north of Franconia Notch, to northern New Hampshire to release it in a less populated area. She postponed her trip long enough to answer the PELI participants’ questions.
“Though I am involved in wildlife conservation and awareness program in Pakistan, this was the first time I met women who are directly handling and doing research on wild animals,” noted Shabana Haider. “It was interesting and encouraging for me and all other women who want to work with wildlife to hear about Nancy’s research work and experience. I love nature and want to serve for nature and love to explore interesting/hidden facts about the behavior and habits of wild animals.”
Nancy also enjoyed her conversation with Haider. “It was certainly interesting to speak with Shabana concerning human/wildlife conflict issues in Pakistan. A common thread for both of us is an increase in nuisance behavior due to loss of wildlife habitat—though both New Hampshire and Pakistan have initiated similar methods to reduce conflicts with nuisance animals.” Shabana’s work with leopards, however, definitely has a more challenging edge to it, Nancy noted. “Leopards trump New Hampshire’s non-aggressive black bears due to the fact that the big cats have occasionally been known to prey on humans.”